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Sick & Tired of Neck Pain?

15 Feb

For most of us, neck pain has reared its ugly head more than once. In fact, there are estimates that anywhere from one-in-ten to one-in-five people will experience an episode of neck pain in a given year. Though some studies report that between 33% and 65% of these people will recover within twelve months, many individuals will experience either a relapse of their neck pain or their neck pain will become a chronic health issue.

So what can a doctor of chiropractic do about it? The answer is simple: spinal manipulation (SM) and exercise. Spinal manipulation is the most common form of treatment delivered in a chiropractic setting, and many studies note that neck pain is the second most common reason patients seek chiropractic care (back pain is number one). Regarding exercise, patients may be advised to engage in stretching exercise, strengthening exercises, or both.

For example, after an hour of seated computer work, one might experience muscle fatigue from prolonged static postures, especially for those outside of a neutral position. For this scenario, here’s a great STRETCH option to do every 30-60 minutes (yes, SET A TIMER): 1) Tuck the chin (and keep it tucked); 2) reach with the right hand over the top of the head and gently pull the right ear toward the shoulder while the left hand reaches down to the floor (as if to pick up a dollar bill); 3) next, nod the head (as if gesturing “yes”) multiple times; 4) follow this by shaking the head left to right (as if gesturing “no”); 5) repeat steps one through four with the head/neck flexed forward and backwards, “searching” for the tightest spots and “work” them until they loosen up. Repeat on the opposite side.

Here is an exercise to STREGTHEN the neck muscles. 1) Tuck in the chin while looking straight ahead; 2) place the back of your second and third fingers under your chin and nod (up/down) against mild resistance; 3) repeat five to ten times SLOWLY; 4)  repeat steps one through three with head/neck flexed forward and then again backwards (looking towards the ceiling). Repeat multiple times each day.

The KEY is to set the timer to remind you to do these! If you have significant forward head carriage and rounded shoulders, your doctor of chiropractic can show you addition important exercises, but this will be a great start for you to gain control over that chronic, recurring neck pain that you’ve been putting up with for far too long!


What Is Torticollis?

18 Dec

Torticollis, also called wry neck or loxia, represents a category of neck conditions which exhibit a twisting position of the head and neck outside of a normal neutral position. There are many potential causes for torticollis from sleeping in a faulty position to an injury to the neck, like whiplash. However, it’s commonly labeled as “idiopathic,” which basically means, “We don’t know what caused it.”

Torticollis often occurs out of the blue with no obvious cause or history such as, “When I woke up, I couldn’t turn or move my head!” It can occur at any age and may disappear on its own in a few days to weeks, but in rare cases, it can persist for months or years.

Because it can be quite alarming, most people quickly seek healthcare services, which can include visiting a doctor of chiropractic. Once the more serious causes of torticollis are ruled out (such as a severe type of infection like a retropharyngeal abscess or bacterial meningitis, fracture, neoplasm, cervical dystonia, etc.), conservative care can proceed.

If a patient has a family history of torticollis, they may have a more serious form of torticollis called cervical dystonia. This usually begins between 31-50 years of age and if left untreated, it can become permanent.

Chiropractic care often includes stretching in which manual cervical traction, spinal mobilization, and myofascial release techniques help to restore the lost range of motion and faulty posture. Once enough motion has been restored, your doctor of chiropractic may utilize spinal manipulation, which often hastens the recovery rate of torticollis. Your chiropractor may also use physical therapy modalities and or provide instruction on home-based exercises and other self-management strategies.

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Neck Pain Management Strategies

16 Nov

Because the human head weighs between 12-15 pounds (5.44-6.80 kg), the neck and upper back muscles must constantly work to maintain an upright posture. Due to our use of computer and electronic devices, many people have forward head posture (FHP), meaning their head rests forwards on the neck more than it should. In fact, studies show that every inch of FHP places an additional 10 pound (4.53 kg) burden on the muscles in the upper back and neck to keep the head upright. It’s no wonder why a common complaint is, “My head feels so heavy and my neck feels compressed—I constantly have to rest my head on the back of the couch when I sit.” So, what can we do about this?

POSTURE: Reducing FHP is essential. To do this, tuck in your chin (creating a “double chin”) and speak as you do this. You will notice a change in your voice quality—HOLD for ten seconds and then release JUST ENOUGH for the voice to clear and try to KEEP this position throughout the day. It takes about three months to retrain old bad posture habits so be patient!

SLEEP: If your neck is narrower than your head (the case for most of us), your pillow needs to be thicker on the edge to support your cervical spine.

ACTIVITY: You may have to assess which activities (such as sports) are most important to you and either modify how you do it and/or change when and how long you engage in such actions. If your goal is to improve in an activity, gradually increase the frequency, intensity, and duration over time. If you hurt and can’t recover within a “reasonable” time frame (such as 24-48 hours), then you overdid it.

Chiropractic offers MANY therapeutic tools to help those with neck pain, which include spinal and extremity manipulation, soft tissue therapy, physical therapy modalities (like ultrasound), nutritional counseling, and exercise training. Your doctor of chiropractic can give you advice on sleeping posture and prescription pillows, home cervical traction options, and more. The goal is not only to manage your neck pain, but more importantly,  to teach you self-management strategies so YOU can control of this often disabling condition and reduce the need for prolonged care.


This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Chiropractic Care for Patients with Headaches

16 Oct

Though there are many different types of headaches, many involve both the upper cervical region (the neck) and the head. Between the muscles that attach to the head and neck, the ligaments that hold the vertebrae together, the blood vessels that allow blood to flow to and from the head, and the nerves that allow us to smell, taste, see, smile, wink, stick out our tongue, and so much more, it’s no wonder that the neck is intimately related to the head and therefore headaches.

One structure that sheds additional light on this close relationship between the neck and headaches is called the “myodural bridge” (MDB), which spans between a muscle in the back of the neck called the rectus capitus posterior minor and the protective covering of the spinal cord called the dura mater. This connection sits in close proximity to the vertebral artery, veins, and the first cervical nerve or C1 (the occipital nerve).

So how does this MDB cause headaches? Normally when we move our head and neck, the muscle contraction puts tension on the MDB, transmitting its force to tense up the dura, stabilizing the spinal cord. This prevents infolding of the dura, which can generate pain in the form of a headache.

When an injury such as whiplash occurs, cervical vertebral joint dysfunction and overly tight muscles in this area transmit abnormal tension to the dura mater via the MDB, which (like infolding) can result in headaches. If the injured muscle/s weaken or atrophy, this can further compromise the function of the MDB, leading to chronic (long-term) headaches.

A common symptom of an MDB headache is a throbbing pain, usually on one side of head near the ear/temple area and possibly behind the eye. The headache may last from several minutes to several days and the base of the head is tender to the touch. Typically, head movements intensify the pain/headache and neck pain may or may not be present.

Research shows that chiropractic manipulation, soft tissue therapy, and exercise can significantly benefit patients with headaches, regardless of the cause. But it is easy to understand that treatment directed to this region is necessary to restore function, and discovery of this MDB may play an important role as to why chiropractic care is so effective for headache patients.

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Chiropractic Care vs. Medication for Neck Pain

18 Sep

Neck pain can arise from a multitude of causes, from trauma like sports injuries and car accidents to just sleeping in an awkward position. It can also arise from non-traumatic causes like stress, anxiety, or depression. In the past, we’ve noted how forward head posture can increase the risk of neck pain and headaches. Suffice it to say, neck pain can arise from almost anything, and many times it’s very challenging to figure out the origin!

A recent study involved 272 nonspecific neck pain patients between the ages of 18-65 years who received twelve weeks of one of three treatments: spinal manipulative therapy (SMT); medication; or home exercise with advice (HEA). The primary method of assessing change involved tracking self-reported pain levels at 2, 4, 8, 12, 26, and 52 weeks and secondary measures included self-reported disability, global improvement, medication use, satisfaction, general health status, and adverse effects.

The results showed that SMT had a statistically significant advantage over medication regarding pain relief after 8, 12, 26, and 52 weeks, and HEA was superior to medication at 26 weeks. The study concluded that SMT was more effective than medication in both the short and long term for those with acute and subacute neck pain.

The research team added that 60% of participants in the medication group reported side effects—of which gut irritation and drowsiness were the most common. The SMT group experienced no significant adverse effects, but 46% of the SMT and HEA groups equally reported short-term soreness or achiness.

Another study showed for that for chronic neck pain patients, the COMBINATION of SMT and HEA yielded the best long-term outcomes compared to either one alone, with SMT favored in the acute stage (initial stage) of care. The challenge for doctors is to get people to continue with their exercises after their pain subsides, as studies show the dropout rate can be as high as 90%!


Dr. Brent Binder
4909 Louise Drive, Suite 102
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055
Member of

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all healthcare concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a healthcare professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

Chiropractic Care and Migraine Headaches

17 Aug

Migraines affect approximately 15% of the general population and are usually managed by medication. However, this traditional treatment approach is not well tolerated by some migraine sufferers due to side effects. Additionally, some people prefer to avoid the risks associated with taking some medications over the long term.

A systematic literature review of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving the use of manual therapies to treat migraines found that chiropractic spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is equally as effective as the medications propranolol and topiramate in the management of such headaches.

One case report featured the successful outcome of a 24-year-old pregnant female who had a history of migraine headaches starting at age twelve. She had previously tried other forms of care including osteopathy, physical therapy, massage therapy, and medication including a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory with codeine. Due to her pregnancy, she turned to chiropractic care in hopes of achieving relief without the use of medications. The application of spinal manipulative therapy along with other manual therapies led to a satisfying outcome which allowed her to cease using her medication.

Another case study featured a 72-year-old woman with a 60-year history of migraine headaches that included nausea, vomiting, photophobia (light sensitivity), and phonophobia (noise sensitivity). Prior to treatment, the patient averaged one to two migraines per week, which lasted one to three days in duration. Following a course of chiropractic care, her headaches resolved completely, which eliminated the need for any migraine medication. A follow-up seven years later confirmed her continued migraine-free status.

In a case involving a 49-year-old female patient suffering from migraine headaches following a car accident, a twelve-week course of chiropractic care utilizing SMT along with both active and other passive therapies led to significant improvements in the patient’s migraine-related disability and pain.

In another case, a 17-year-old boy fell on his head while pole vaulting and began to experience bipolar disorder symptoms, seizures, sleeping problems, and migraine headaches. After failing to respond to various treatment approaches from numerous physicians, he sought treatment from a doctor of chiropractic at age 23. After four months of chiropractic care, his migraine frequency dropped from three times a week to twice a month. He reported a full recovery after seven months of care, which was sustained at an 18-month follow-up.


Dr. Brent Binder
4909 Louise Drive, Suite 102
Mechanicsburg Pa, 17055

Member of